On a Manhattan street, Cusack and Piven are hopping out one side of a taxicab as Beckinsale and Shannon plop unseen into the other. The scene takes hours to film: This mistiming must be impeccable. It’s one of many flips of fortune sprinkled throughout ”Serendipity,” in which Cusack and Beckinsale meet by chance one wintry New York minute, walk and talk through the night, and part ways, leaving it up to kismet to cross paths again. Or not. Ten years later, she’s engaged, he’s about to marry, and they’re hunting each other down — armed with slightly cynical best friends.
”I’ve done movies with Johnny where I’ve come in and out — I drink a pony keg and pass out,” says Cusack’s longtime friend Piven. ”But this is almost like a buddy film for him and me, as well as a romantic comedy. It’s more intricate.” And, those involved swear, less formulaic. Cusack’s jilted to be (Bridget Moynahan), for instance, isn’t a ”made to hate” stereotype. ”She’s not wrong, she’s just not as right,” says Shannon, who plays Beckinsale’s pal. ”He could have a happy life with her, but she’s not going to be the One.” Paging fate: We need an intervention here!